When out pro wrestler Rebel Kinney does anything, she does it with brash conviction. Pro wrestling’s rebel grrrl is still young in her career but has quickly made a name for herself in the U.K. wrestling scene, thanks to bringing her in-your-face predilection and empowering embrace of her lesbian identity into the ring.
It’s hard to do anything more when you adopt the moniker “The Psycho Dyke,” have “lesbian” tattooed on your knuckles and “queer” adorning your chest.
And that openness has served Kinney well. She built herself into a mainstay with promotions like Riptide Wrestling and Pro Wrestling EVE and is helping train the next crop of British female wrestlers at the EVE Academy after only three years as a pro.
Kinney’s is the kind of passion needed not just to succeed in wrestling but also to inspire those watching, craving a figure in which they can see themselves. That desire was always there, but her journey in pro wrestling might have found its catalyst later, if not for a childhood VHS switcheroo.
“I originally intended to watch The Lion King but someone swapped the tape out for Royal Rumble 2000,” Kinney revealed on the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring. “Instead of watching the story of Simba, I watched Taz beat up Kurt Angle.” She suspects it was her brother that caused this bit of serendipity, but Kinney was hooked regardless.
Kinney found her most lasting influence a short time later when in-ring veteran Jazz debuted for WWE in 2001. “I’d never seen a woman that looks close to how I look doing the things I know are more my style,” Kinney said. Jazz proved to be a fitting role model for Kinney as her unapologetic nature towards acceptance of her lesbian identity mirrors Jazz’s legacy as a prominent voice for Black women in pro wrestling.
Like Jazz did for her, Kinney is now paying it forward, standing as a vocal figure for lesbians and other LGBTQ people in pro wrestling and an example of underrepresented communities in a British wrestling scene bubbling with a new, growing crop of LGBTQ trainees. “That’s absolutely wild and ridiculous to get in my head. I’ve only been a pro for three years and there are people doing it now because they saw me,” Kinney said. “It’s quickly become a very important thing to me.”